The wasted pick on Peter was an exception. Players drafted by Parcells — players such as Troy Brown, Willie McGinest, Ty Law, Ted Johnson, Tedy Bruschi, and Lawyer Milloy — proved to be a foundation for New England’s 21st century Super Bowl champions. Parcells also discovered a pretty fair kicker who’d played for Amsterdam in the World League: Adam Vinatieri.
In his final season in New England, Parcells took “his guys” to the ultimate game, Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans. Unfortunately, the experience was tainted when the Globe’s Will McDonough — a great friend of Parcells — broke the story that Parcells would leave the Patriots immediately after the championship game.
“That was a little bit disruptive,’’ said the Tuna. “But in the end, it didn’t affect our team or what we tried to do getting ready for the game. It was ancillary stuff.’’
What about the notion that he was thinking about moving on to work for the Jets, instead of concentrating on the Super Bowl?
“Absolutely untrue,’’ said Parcells. “Anybody that knows me knows that that’s untrue.’’
Even with the distraction, it looked like the Patriots might win anyway when they cut Green Bay’s lead to 27-21 in the third quarter. And then Desmond Howard’s 99-yard TD kickoff return put the game away for the Packers. Some New England fans believe Troy Brown might have tackled Howard had he not been sidelined with an injury.
“The player who was in for him [Hason Graham] had a chance to make the tackle and just didn’t do it,’’ said Parcells. “But I don’t know if Troy would have made the tackle either. That certainly was a big play in the game. We had a lot of momentum when that happened.’’
Five years after Parcells left, Belichick’s Patriots shocked the world, winning the first of three Super Bowls. From a distance, Parcells took a small amount of satisfaction in the Patriots’ success.
“It [his four years in New England] was a little bit of a beginning for a franchise that kind of got to the top of the league and maintained that status for a long time,’’ he said. “They are still highly competitive and I’m certain they’ll be that way this year.’’
Almost three weeks shy of his 72d birthday, he has second thoughts about the way it ended here for him.
“I probably would have approached the situation with the new ownership a little bit more wisely,’’ Parcells said this week. “I think retrospectively that we could have worked together and worked something out. I had that opportunity and I didn’t do that and I regretted that. That’s one of the things that if I had a chance to do it over in my career, I would change it. But life goes on and things work out, and it’s worked out well for New England, and quite frankly it’s worked out well for me.’’
Parcells was 51 when he took the Patriots’ job. He said it would be his final stop. That was before the Jets, Cowboys, and Dolphins.
“It’s a little bit like a narcotic,’’ he admitted. “When you grow up loving it and being part of it, it provides a tremendous exhilaration and excitement when the games come. On the dark side of that, it also beats you up a little bit. But that mix of the potential for success and excitement kind of holds you to it.’’
All the way to Canton.